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Opinion: O’Regan’s comments are damaging the reputation of Kerry soccer

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Whenever the flames surrounding John Delaney’s ill-fated tenure began to rise, John O’Regan was always first on the scene to tackle the blaze, armed with nothing more than two lungs full of air.

We saw it numerous times over the past seven months. The secretary of the Kerry District League frequently appeared on radio and television to defend his stricken comrade, on one occasion going so far as to say that the embattled celebrity administrator should be “running the country”.

Now, following his resignation 10 days ago, the Delaney years are done. The fire fighting failed and all that remains is a charred pile of guff and empty promises.

Yet, in spite of everything, in spite of the litany of misconduct allegations, both pecuniary and moral, O’Regan still stands by his man. Speaking to the Irish Independent last weekend, the FAI Senior Council member once again reiterated his unwavering support for his long-time friend and associate.

“He's done a fantastic job here in Kerry,” O’Regan said. “John Delaney was in the job for 14 or 15 years. He did mighty work for many, many years.

“I'm listening to people in the grassroots in Kerry and Limerick and all over. In youth soccer and junior soccer and schoolboy soccer. They have no problem with John Delaney. He's done an awful lot for that side of the game. The people I have seen whingeing and moaning are the crowd in the League of Ireland.

“I can't see what was done wrong to be honest.”

Frankly, that last line is staggering. Or at least it would be were it not so painfully predictable.

Let’s get this straight. As far as John O’Regan is concerned, John Delaney providing the FAI with a secret bridging loan of €100,000 due to the association having "insufficient funds" was not wrong.

Devising the Vantage Club premium ticketing scheme, a disastrous venture which left the association struggling to pay its share of the Aviva Stadium construction costs, was not wrong.

Accepting, on behalf of the FAI, a secret €5 million pay-off from FIFA over the Thierry Henry handball affair was not wrong.

Accepting a salary of €450,000 (later €360,000) at a time when FAI staff were being made redundant was not wrong.

Taking €36,000 a year to help pay for his rent (in addition to his salary) was not wrong.

Spending €40,000 on his company credit card over a six-month period, including €400 at Tommy Hilfiger and €226 on shirts from Thomas Pink, was not wrong.

The fact that this year the FAI, who Delaney said would be debt-free by 2020, needed financial assistance from UEFA just to avoid collapse was not wrong.

And now, even though the ex-CEO has been forced to quit on the back of all of these astonishing revelations, many of which came to light after some excellent journalism by Mark Tighe and The Sunday Times, O’Regan still “can’t see what was done wrong to be honest”.

Sticking by John Delaney at this stage of proceedings is dumbfounding and when the head of the Kerry District League continues to do so, it undoubtedly causes reputational damage to Kerry soccer.

Does O’Regan genuinely not see what Delaney has done wrong (which would be very concerning) or is he misusing his position and status to defend the indefensible (also very concerning)?

What makes this all the more confusing is the fact that for the first time in 15 years, backing John Delaney cannot in any way benefit the game in this part of the world - if it ever did at all.

Delaney is gone. He has returned his badges, both FAI and UEFA. He has turned in his green tie (though not the one he triumphantly tossed into the crowd in Moscow). He has handed over his shoes (though not the pair he had taken from his feet in Sopot, nor the ones he generously gifted to a needy “itinerant” child).

And, tearfully no doubt, he has even checked in his pride and joy: the novelty, over-sized company chequebook.

O’Regan’s words are problematic but what’s more worrying from my point of view is that his remarks are invariably met with silence. In terms of media coverage, I haven’t seen too many column inches dedicated to the secretary of the KDL or the things he has said.

When various league chairmen and boards around the country unilaterally backed Delaney in March, many clubs spoke out to say that they hadn’t been consulted. That hasn’t been the case in Kerry, despite the fact that virtually everyone I’ve spoken to disagrees with O’Regan’s sentiments entirely.

In fact, when I wrote about O’Regan and the KDL earlier this year, players at certain clubs were warned by their managers not to share, like or comment on my articles.

Why is that?

ROLES

O’Regan wields a lot of power in Mounthawk Park. In addition to acting as league secretary, he is also fixtures secretary and joint treasurer. And if you were listening to Radio Kerry last Saturday evening, you would have heard the man who runs Kerry soccer assuming PRO duties too as he previewed the weekend’s junior soccer fixtures. In some instances, he even predicted who was going to win.

Allies will point to this omnipresence as evidence of O’Regan’s dedication, as well as proof of how hard it is to find volunteers to fill these roles.

Others, including former league officers and club officials, have claimed privately that in the KDL, it’s O’Regan’s way or the highway. If that is, indeed, the case, it seems as though many people have simply chosen the highway.

O’Regan’s disciples speak of all the hard work he has done for the KDL down through the decades and there’s no denying that over the course of his 44-year reign he has given up thousands of hours of his time.

As the son of a long-serving club official myself, and as someone who has served as PRO for my own GAA club, I know how thankless a job it is to volunteer for an amateur sport. Anyone who takes up a voluntary role within a club or sporting organisation is deserving of great credit, especially if they do it for a long period of time. That should go without saying.

But all the service in the world shouldn’t shield you from criticism if you get something wrong.

When you represent a club or a league, be it for four weeks or forty-four years, you have to be held accountable. O’Regan is answerable to the clubs, not the other way around.

Look at it this way: if GAA president John Horan did what John Delaney did, and Tim Murphy, the chairman of the Kerry County Board, came out and repeatedly backed him without asking the clubs for their opinions, would he get a free pass? No chance. The clubs and the media would be up in arms, and rightly so.

GOD

A profile piece by Mike Rice of The Kerryman dated January 2012 revealed that O’Regan “has been nicknamed ‘God’ by many of his friends in the world of soccer as he has made so many things happen at Mounthawk Park”. And it’s not just friends. Foes also seem to cast O’Regan in this divine light.

For many people within the Kerry soccer family, this raises a difficult question. How do you stand up to God?

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Killarney allocated over €600,000 for public outdoor dining

By Sean Moriarty The plan to place council operated outdoor dining on Kenmare Place took a step closer to reality this week. On Wednesday Fáilte Ireland revealed that 38 Municipal Districts were successful in their funding applications. Killarney is set to receive €604,505 under the scheme which is managed by the national tourism promotion body. […]

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By Sean Moriarty

The plan to place council operated outdoor dining on Kenmare Place took a step closer to reality this week.

On Wednesday Fáilte Ireland revealed that 38 Municipal Districts were successful in their funding applications.

Killarney is set to receive €604,505 under the scheme which is managed by the national tourism promotion body.

“The aim of this Scheme is to support tourism and hospitality jobs and help businesses develop new ways of catering for domestic and international tourists outdoors. Access to outdoor dining facilities will continue to be a key part of industry recovery as we look forward to 2022 and beyond,” said Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin at Wednesday’s announcement.

Elected members of Killarney Municipal District are scheduled to meet in the coming weeks and more details of the project will be revealed after this meeting.

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Student grants and renting

Supports Available It’s that time of year where parents and their school leaving children are preparing for college for the first time. The main financial support for students or their parents is the Student Grant from SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland). SUSI typically accepts late applications up until November. This is a means tested grant […]

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Supports Available

It’s that time of year where parents and their school leaving children are preparing for college for the first time. The main financial support for students or their parents is the Student Grant from SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland). SUSI typically accepts late applications up until November. This is a means tested grant which may cover the fees (student contribution) and provide maintenance.

The limits that apply to the grant vary, but if the student was coming from a family with less than four dependent children, in order to qualify for the maximum rate of grant the total net income in the previous tax year would have to have been €39,875 or less. That refers to both the parent’s income and the student’s income, however €4,500 of the student’s income which they earn outside term time e.g. during the summer will be disregarded.

PUP

If the student was getting the PUP payment because they lost their part-time job due to the pandemic, this is taken into account. Currently there are no disregards allowed for PUP payments. If there is more than one student attending college from the same household, the limit may be increased by €4,830.

Maximum Student Grant

There are actually two different maximum rates of grant. There are referred to as the adjacent and non-adjacent rate. The adjacent rate is for students living within 45km of the college and the non-adjacent rate is for students living more than 45km from the college. The adjacent rate is €3,025. The non-adjacent rate is €1,125. There has always been a special higher rate of grant for disadvantaged students.

Student Assistance Fund

Yes, separate from the Student Grant from SUSI the colleges have access to the Student Assistance Fund. Students can apply directly through their college for assistance with expenses such as books or laptops. Typically, this involves completing an application form and going for a short interview in the college. There are no set amounts of funding under this scheme. The college will assess each application on its own merits.

Renting for the First Time

Don’t be tempted to pay a deposit or sign a tenancy agreement until you have seen the property. If you are signing a tenancy agreement check if you want to live in the property for the time period stated on the agreement, check for early break clauses. Make sure you have correct contact details for the landlord. If you chose to leave the property early you may lose your deposit.

Deposits

The landlord should only retain the deposit or part of it to cover any damage to the property beyond normal wear and tear. The tenant should take pictures of the property before they move out as evidence of the condition they left the property in.

Rents

There are different rules depending on whether the property is in a Rent Pressure Zone or not. A Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ)  is an area where rents cannot be increased by more than general inflation. At the beginning of a new tenancy in a RPZ, a landlord is required to provide the tenant, in writing, with the amount of rent that was last set. For a tenancy not located in a Rent Pressure Zones a landlord may increase the rent in line with market value once every two years.

For anyone needing information, advice or have an advocacy issue, you can call a member of the local Citizens Information team in Kerry on 0761 07 7860. The offices are staffed from Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm, email tralee@citinfo.ie or log on to www.citizensinformation.ie for further information.

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